Reuters reported today that the Maduro regime is planning to sell 15 tonnes of gold to the United Arab Emirates (AUE) “in the coming days” for cash in euros, following the sale of 3 tonnes of the previous metal on January 26. The information came from “a senior official with knowledge of the plan”, Reuters said.
The sale is part of a larger plan that would see as many as 29 tonnes of gold sold to the (UAE):
In total, the plan is to sell 29 tonnes of gold held in Caracas to the United Arab Emirates by February in order to provide liquidity for imports of basic goods, the source said, requesting anonymity in order to speak freely.
According to Reuters, the Banco Central de Venezuela (Venezuelan Central Bank, BCV), the country as a total of 132 tonnes of gold in reserve between the BCV’s vault in Caracas and what is stored at the Bank of England in London.
Just last week, Bloomberg reported that the regime unsuccessfully attempted to withdraw $1.2 billion worth of gold from the Bank of England, but was denied by the institution. That report cited “people familiar with the matter”.
So far, there is no official confirmation from Caracas about the sale of the gold. Reuters cited former Chavez-era trade minister Gustavo Marquez as saying:
We don’t know what is exported any more, or under what conditions. They are operations that should be transparent.
Black Market, Official Currency Rates Make Rare Switch
Bloomberg reported today that the black market and official currency rates have gone “topsy-turvy”: the black market rate, for years many times higher than the official rate, is now worth less than the rate set by Caracas.
According to Bloomberg:
t isn’t entirely clear what caused the reversal of the long-time dynamic, in which strict government restrictions pushed those who couldn’t access the official rate to pay a premium that sometimes approached 20-fold on the informal market. But it appears there’s been a collapse in the supply of dollars — or a spike in demand for them — from the small group of companies and individuals that have access to the central bank auctions, sending the rate plummeting 52 percent this week alone and 83 percent in January.
The same article lists the price of a US dollar at BsS. 2,500 in the black market, cheaper than the official exchange rate which now sits at BsS. 3,295.
Bloomberg points out that “one potential influence” on the rate is the introduction of the Interbanex online platform, which was rolled out in the country last weekend. The platform is privately-owned but officially sanctioned by Venezuelan authorities, and allows users to sign-up and trade currency at the official rate.
Twitter Shuts Down 1,960 Venezuela-Linked Troll Accounts
NBC News reported today that Twitter had shut down 1,960 troll accounts with connections to Venezuela, 1,196 of which it “reliably” linked to the Maduro regime.
According to NBC, the accounts “mostly tweeted in defense of the country’s embattled president”, but a “separate network of 764” accounts focused their attention on Americans prior to the 2016 U.S. election.
Twitter also claimed that the Venezuelan accounts’ disinformation activities in the U.S. “broadly borrowed from Russia’s Internet Research Agency playbook” insofar as they appeared to be working to sow political discontent in that country.
The Internet Research Agency is a a company based out of St. Petesrburg, Russia, that engages in “online influence operations”. The Agency is caught up in the ongoing special counsel investigation in the United States, having been implicated in a “‘conspiracy’ to illegally influence the US presidential campaign”.
Guaido Calls for “Whatever Pressure is Necessary” to Oust Maduro
Interim president Juan Guaido spoke in a televised interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour today. During the interview, Guaido was asked “if he would accept US military support” to remove Maduro from power. As CNN put it:
Asked by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour whether he would accept US military support, he said through an interpreter: “Here in Venezuela we are doing everything we can to put pressure, so that we don’t have to come to a scenario that no one would wish to have.”
Guaido also issued a statement in English to the people of the United States at Amanpour’s request:
Questions/Comments? E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org